Herpes Zoster

Shingles or herpes zoster is a painful and sometimes debilitating viral disease that afflicts nearly one million Americans annually. The Herpes Zoster virus can remain in the body for many years, often from the time of a childhood episode of the chickenpox. As people get older, their immune system naturally weakens to some infectious agents, such as herpes zoster. The virus normally lays dormant in nerve cells, but in some people the virus reactivates years, or even decades, later and causes herpes zoster. Anyone who has had the chickenpox infection or vaccine can get the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles. About 20 percent of people who have had chickenpox will develop herpes zoster.

The video below shows how a typical case of herpes ( In this case, herpes zoster ophthalmicus ) develops:


Patients with herpes zoster are contagious to those who lack immunity, but less so than patients with varicella. Unlike herpes simplex I, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) does not usually flare up more than once in adults with normally functioning immune systems. Shingles (herpes zoster) most commonly occurs in older adults. The medical term for shingles is acute herpes zoster.

Info and Articles on Herpes Zoster
 

Shingles Rash Symptoms
Patients with herpes zoster are infectious to those who lack immunity, but less so than patients with varicella. In contrast t herpes simplex I, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) does not for the most part flare up more than once in adults with typically functioning immune systems. As people get older, their immune system naturally weakens to some germs, such as herpes zoster. The virus mainly lays dormant in nerve cells, but in certain people the virus reactivates years, or even decades, later and leads to herpes zoster.

are shingles contagious
Localized herpes zoster requires secretion precautions to guard against spreading of infection by direct contact with secretions from vesicles and from secretion-contaminated articles. In individuals with damaged immune systems, herpes zoster may be widespread (disseminated), causing serious illness. There is no agreement on how acute herpes zoster (shingles) should be managed in general practice. Although anyone who has had chickenpox can subsequently have herpes zoster (shingles), it is much more prevalent in individuals older than 50 years. The virus causing herpes zoster (shingles) is already present from an earlier infection with chickenpox.

medical shingles chicken pox treatment
Acute pain responds to prompt treatment of herpes zoster, and immediate therapy lessens the duration of pain in PHN patients. Patients should be advised to begin treatment as soon as possible after a diagnosis of herpes zoster. All patients with acute herpes zoster ophthalmicus ought to receive antiviral therapy with the objective of preventing ocular complications. Descyclovir, famcyclovir, valacyclovir, and pencyclovir are similar to acyclovir and may be used to treat herpes zoster. Tricyclic antidepressants help relieve several of the symptoms, including depression and pain, that affect herpes zoster sufferers with postherpetic neuralgia.

is there a vaccine for shingles
Zostavax is a vaccine intended for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) and herpes zoster related postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). The vaccine challenge reactivates cellular immunity to VZV, preventing or weakening incidence of herpes zoster. The zoster vaccine markedly reduced mortality from herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia among older adults. In some cases a mild narcotic is needed to control the burning pain associated with herpes zoster.

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